210: Questioning the Ties that Bind: Boundaries, Traditions, and the Evolving Family – Pt 2 (Sort Of)

In part 2, we continue the conversation around our societal norms and customs with family in modern times. We shift our focus to how to recognize and address this dysfunction that is happening in our systems.

We talk about the idea that rules we have been following are actually tools that we have put in place for a good life. And when they are not producing a good life, it might be time to apply a new rule.

Further, we present the idea that if part of a system does not report back to the entire system, the system will be dysfunctional from the start.

Whether you’re navigating familial tensions, seeking a sense of belonging, or simply curious about the shifting sands of modern families, this episode offers insightful answers and practical tools for building relationships that thrive. Tune in and join the conversation!

⁠Part 1⁠

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Email: RecoverySortOf@gmail.com

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welcome back it’s recovery sort of the podcast where we explore the struggles of Life the challenges of mental health and recovery and the spaces between we express our personal views on life here and this podcast is not meant to replace medical advice or tell anyone the right way to live this podcast is best used as a place of curiosity and questioning to accompany you on your journey be aware there is strong language this week we’re picking up where we left the conversation off last week here we go [Applause] [Music] back to the idea of like when are we allowed to say no to family to cut off family um in in my mind I kind of think of this as I’ve been trying to work around a new way of looking at this the thing I’ve always done in my life is I’ve had this pressure from these set of rules that I’m supposed to follow to be enough and like basically my head criticizes me and grades me on how well I do that every day um and that doesn’t work very well and it doesn’t leave me many outs because every time I say this situation doesn’t feel good the opposite thing is but if you don’t do it that won’t feel good because your [  ] guilt for not following the rules right so lately what I’ve been trying to remind myself is that these aren’t rules that somebody put on me these are rules I choose to follow to get a healthy Good Feeling life I believe if I follow these rules I will feel good because I will be accepted and loved by Society people will look at me and think that’s a nice guy right so these rules so to speak that I’ve been living under are actually tools I’ve put in place to try to live a good life and be happy they’re not anybody else’s they’re mine they’re ones I chose to follow to be happy with myself if I’m not happy or it hurts in the moment moment the rule has missed its [  ] point and I need to re-evaluate and I just think that’s a really good way for me to conceptualize this thing is that this isn’t a rule somebody’s putting on me it’s a tool I’m using to keep myself being a good person and get in love but if it doesn’t feel good or it hurts me right now maybe it’s the wrong tool in this situation right maybe that tool works fine 90% of the time but maybe I need a new tool for this situation that makes me feel okay inside too and also still seek being a good enough person what do you think of that yeah well I immediately think for me that’s been like that specific experience has been a result of for me 12 step work and Recovery in the inventory process and self-reflection and some of those rules that did serve me a few years ago you know they might have been the best then but right now they’re not anymore and I’m at a different place in my life you know some of my values have grown and changed some of my goals and aspirations in life have grown and changed so yeah just that constant process of not being stuck in all these preconceived ideas even ones that I pick for myself you know even you know I tell people all the time like I still go to 12ep meetings after 20 something years it’s not really that common if you look around there’s not that many people that still do but I tell all the time like I constantly reassess like does this have something to offer me is this still valuable in my life am I still getting what I need out of this relationship and then I have to make that decision because I’m not stuck being out there as some obligatory thing that I feel like I’m going to go die if I stop going like probably not you know I’m probably going to be okay so why am I going there and what am I doing this for and then being able to take that and do that in a lot of areas of my life you know what I mean what am I doing in my marriage what am I doing in my work relationship is this serving me well like does this even work maybe it’s something I’ve told myself I’m supposed to do or something that I feel like I’m obliged to do but if it doesn’t work then it’s not worth keeping doing it in in my mind I think the the real power in the understanding of of what I was just trying to conceptualize for me is that I move away from believing that the world has a set in stone list of rules that I need to follow and I move towards empowering myself to understand I’m the one that’s actually choosing to follow these rules for a good reason most of the time but I’m also that means that I’m the one in charge of being allowed to understand that they don’t always apply no [  ] rule always applies think about it right but we hold ourselves to the standard that they should and I guess I like that and I’m hoping other people can find some freedom and some uh some self-empowerment right in that like this isn’t somebody else’s choice this is yours make yeah and that’s where you know for me like therapy having you know in my case my spouse um or other people in recovery and you know the recovery meetings like those things are places where I can uh work through some of that stuff question some of that stuff out loud and and help me make better decisions for myself what do you think I think yeah you should do what feels good for you do I just have to ask you what do you think every five minutes maybe okay maybe do I’ll do it we’ll see what were you thinking about that do you not like that idea do you do you have rules do you see places in your life where you’ve had rules and they’ve limited you and made you feel worse and maybe you’ve had to change them over time I don’t think so no I mean probably at some point but I think when my life imploded I don’t know did my life impl implode when Matt relapsed or did my life implode when Matt died at some point in that process life was so off the rails from what like a normal life would be that it really just became about like doing what I needed to do to get by and get through and I think that allowed me to give myself a lot of freedom to do what was best for me makes a lot of sense well and not to kind of pick on that a little bit but it’s like the whole idea that your normal life imploded is the set of rules that you put on your life because most people don’t have this normal life you know what I mean like and this is where I am starting to figure out it’s like I put an expectation on my marriage and my relationship of what it’s supposed to be to be healthy and normal and then if it’s not that that means something’s wrong but that doesn’t give my wife the space to be who she is and have her defects and assets and all those things or me to be safe to be who I am with my defects and assets because it’s probably never going to be that perfect set of rules that I put on what would be healthier or normal you know what I mean but I would say that the situation I was in was a few levels above that because it was literally like I was in survival mode for well there will be things that are toxic stuff like that but yeah I mean I was things were so far away from a normal way of living for years that yeah I don’t know so I and and what you say makes a lot of sense right I totally get it I I guess what I was thinking in there would be and this is for my body going through situations like that is that in that moment me staying in that when I know is not healthy for for me and I know that this other person is incapable of loving me even though I keep allowing myself to believe the the hope they’re selling me that’s the place where I’m abandoning me right and I’m shaming me about it it doesn’t matter that I’m free to do all these behaviors to keep it going I’m still shaming myself in the background because I know I ain’t treating me good yeah I mean I wasn’t staying with I mean I was married to him right and so I disconnected from him while he was using and started Living my own life but um I wasn’t at a point um for a while where I was ready to say this marriage is over as a result because I was still hopeful he was going to you know turn things around but yeah and then when he died obviously it wasn’t a matter of making a choice to stay in it or not I was just in a state of greef yeah um so for me and and this isn’t I’m not trying to argue like that’s not the goal here I’m just trying to think through this and like the process of a survival mode opening up and giving me more freedom doesn’t feel like it makes sense because I can picture if I’m in a survival mode I’m going to be willing to kill somebody but once I Cal back down again I go back to the original rules I had to follow you know I mean I didn’t I think because I because it was such a gradual process right so I was in survival mode not consistently for two years straight but a fair amount over the two years of Matt’s using and then he died and so then I was a little bit in survival mode those first few months just because of the the grief being so overwhelming but then it began to slowly fade as I continued to prioritize doing what I needed to do for myself in that moment things got better and I did not disregard these things I learned about prioritizing what’s right for me in a m in the moment and focusing on myself and that’s been easier to do too because I don’t have other people in my life I have to focus on I don’t have kids that need something from me I don’t have a spouse that needs something I have dogs but their needs are pretty minimal so the ability to really just focus on my needs and what I want or or you know feel like is is the appropriate choice for me in a situation is a lot easier it’s a lot easier when it’s just when you’re just making decisions for yourself I I don’t disagree with that at all because a lot of my obligation sense does come towards those those main people in my life for sure right no no doubt but I man if my body can’t even begin to understand the idea of being very free or totally free of the thought of having to be a certain way for other people or in other situations like even if I don’t give into it now even if I have the ability to like breathe for five minutes and think it through and realize I got to do what’s right for me I frequently throughout my day feel this oh [  ] I got to be this or oh [  ] I got to show up in this way or you know that comes to me a lot so I’m like I don’t know maybe I’m jealous of you maybe I just don’t understand it I don’t know well and I don’t know how this ties in but it’s just I’m going to say similar in that I have my uh one of my cousins who was at the party yesterday actually her husband they didn’t have any kids they were younger is she’s probably 30ish so yeah they were probably he probably 28 29 her husband and he died just over a year ago on a construction accident actually he was killed and so like last year was the first Christmas without him and she still came to the Christmas party and kind of you know you could tell she was not in a good space and like you know Jen and I probably of all our family members are the best and a lot of that came from our episode on trauma like just like honoring like so you know are you thinking about him how are you doing you know talking about you know her husband that passed and stuff and then this year so the Ann it was like a month before Christmas that this happened so this whole time of year is bad for her right so she was there yesterday and she came and she was a little off and and she just kind of dipped out after like a really short amount of time and then other family members are just they say like what I consider inconsiderate [  ] it’s like oh well it’s been like a year now I wonder when she going to start dating again and you know that would probably help her a lot if she and of course you know you want to say well it’s her process to go through like let’s not put these rules around what we think that grief is supposed to look like or what she you think you know what she’s going through you know and just letting go of all that and being like well one I don’t know what the [  ] I would do if I was my wife died I don’t I don’t know I can’t I mean I like to think I know because it hasn’t happened but I mean then at the same time it doesn’t matter what I think she should do she’s going through her process and if she’s talking about it and feels okay with where she’s at and doing healthy things for herself then let’s let go of all of our [  ] preconceived expectations of what we think is good there’s definitely a short list of like yachts and bikinis and scandy clad women that’s all I’m saying if my wife dies there’s definitely a short list of things that happen but but Jason Yachts cost a lot of money and you don’t like you don’t like money I’ll have an imaginary yacht yeah great we’ll take mushrooms and pretend we’re on a yacht um yeah yeah all those all those opinions and and maybe you only heard one or two of some family members but maybe there was a variety of opinions of where she should be or what she should be allowed to do all those [  ] people live in my head and I think they’re me from time to time and I confuse myself so well and and most of them are like they want to see her not suffering as what they want and they think they should be able to fix it with their these rules and ideas that they have in their head if you just do a b and c then this will happen and that’s exactly what the little mini ruler in my [  ] head was taught was that there’s a way to be and if you just do this you’ll be happy and if you’re not happy it’s cuz you’re not [  ] doing it right right you got to do more and I was never happy and it always felt awful and like I just can’t imagine people walking through the world not having some of that in them I’m like how the [  ] God I don’t know I think I found a lot of freedom but people went that at all I’m like I don’t know what you’re living but I’m jealous I want some of that I felt like before the conversation when a different direction I had may be an explanation but it’s gone now I don’t know why why I have that in you don’t I’m just thinking about like when my boss messages me there’s an expectation on me of oh these are the certain words I’m allowed to say this is the tone I’m allowed to have like well I mean there’s ways to operate out in the world that’s socially acceptable and but my yeah but [  ] that social acceptability that’s what I’m saying but but but that doesn’t impede on my ability to take care of myself like my instinct is to not go against that stuff I’m a generally a a a rule follower I don’t know that that makes us happy though but it doesn’t make me unhappy like to not curse at my boss doesn’t make me unhappy so I have something that I here’s a little bit of like some other people breaking rules and like it or social constructs and it boggles my mind and it’s interesting to think about in the context of what we’re talking about so I’m you know I started this new job in May so and I’m managing a team of right now nine so I have five five people that are reporting directly to me and then I have some people that are reporting to some of my directs and um so the day before Thanksgiving noon on a Wednesday day almost everyone on the team is working that day and I send everyone just a really nice email like wanted to wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving thank you so much for all the hard work you’re doing this year thank you for bearing with me as I am getting turning towards Billy your voice going I know I know every time I listen to an episode with myself on it I’m like I’m so much quieter than them yeah you got to be up on it okay like this can I touch it you can okay don’t don’t rub it too much cuz that will make noise the rubbing it makes a noise yeah that makes a noise too SM with your elbow it’s hard though when I’m because I’m talking to you guys it’s hard to not make eye contact sh your eyes yeah um now I totally lost my train of thought oh yeah just this nice email like thank you for supporting me as I’m getting up to speed and I hope everybody has a really happy Thanksgiving so out of a team of nine one person answered me one person made a decision to respond to a nice email from their boss and the rest said nothing yeah and what does that mean to you it boggles my mind no no no no what does it mean about those people to you go ahead tell us I don’t know oh you got some kind of judgment about what it means I don’t know so you you understand what it means if Caroline’s body didn’t do that if Caroline was to get that email from her boss and not respond Bond you know what it means what does it mean that that I’m completely disengaged okay yeah completely disengaged because I I mean I think for me it’s like even if I hated my boss I’d still know it’s in my best interest to respond to my boss oh in your best interest yeah like from a career like maintaining my job like I shouldn’t make my boss think I hate her if I want to keep my job like you’re obligated to show up a certain way in the world and can’t just be you so I guess but that’s the way I would want to show up even if I hate her I want to respond to her because I want to not be on her [  ] list so I’ll play Devil’s Advocate cuz I’m the non reper I would read that and be like oh that’s super nice thank you very much delete into the trash really yeah help me understand that it does it say I need a reply like so to me and this is the same I do the same thing with text like I a text or an email is not an interpersonal communication that re falls under the same guise as a conversation so if you looked at me at the face and said those things I would feel an OB and maybe it’s wrong on my part I’m just telling you how I process it in my mind I love it if this was a interpersonal communication and someone came to me and said that I wouldn’t go oh okay and turn around and leave I would feel like I would say oh thank you very much that feels good but in an email I’m like oh that doesn’t feel like like a super interpersonal communication that requires a response unless it says please let me know how you feel then that requires a response Jen my wife has actually said she’s commented like you she said I’ll send you emails and you don’t even reply I’m like because it says like hey check this out so I checked it out it doesn’t say let me know what you think or you know let’s talk about it it says look at this so I looked at it son of a [  ] hey Billy him if I send you a [  ] article and a text I want to talk about it I’m telling you right now that’s the rules I want to talk about it I’m very interested in your opinion of it so now I learned that about my wife so I reply but I still don’t to like my boss I don’t I mean if it requires a reply but I think I know my boss like that too like he sends emails that the whole email is in the subject so that he doesn’t have to even type anything in the body so I just yeah I for us it’s like leaving somebody a note that’s how I look at an email or a text because a note has no way to immediately respond there’s not a reply button on a note if your boss sent you an email and was like hope you have a merry Christmas you would just ignore it um maybe not I mean here’s a question maybe not that specific one but a lot of them yes did my boss send me an email or did my boss send a mass email to the employees because that is a big [  ] difference that’s true I mean I sent an employee to the team but it’s nine people it’s not a 100 Noe really yeah the expectation that somebody should reply directly to a [  ] Mass message that you didn’t personalize to them [  ] that and again I don’t say that I’m right I because I challenge myself on some of that too but I’m just telling you like my perspective on that stuff is I’m right for Jason right now yeah [  ] replying to a mass email cuz you should have personalized so for you though if it’s a mass email it doesn’t require a reply but if it’s an individual email it does in my mind nothing requires a reply I reply to things that I want to [  ] answer beyond that catch me when you catch me so if your boss sent an email how many therapists are on the team like 27 or something that’s yeah that’s a pretty big amount see to me I guess that I I don’t know I mean this is good feedback for me because I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out is this a cultural issue at the organization where I came from I mean I have member I’m see when I’m up in Canada I’m visiting with an old employee like I’m still in contact with employees from from my last organization and never would that have happened there where I sent the team an email and people just didn’t answer so it’s a very different world and I think if I didn’t have the experience of managing a team in the past that I knew loved me and showed me that you know that they loved having me as their boss and and demonstrated that I would take this lack of responsiveness from this team I would be taking it very personally and so I’m really glad that it’s not the first team I’ve managed cuz I would be probably hurt well you’ve taken some of these things personally before like what when you’re mass email about leaving your old job and you didn’t get as many replies as you thought you would and stuff like that along the way oh yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah um yeah you’re right I did I did and that was a true Mass email I mean and yeah I mean a lot of people never reached out to me I wasn’t expecting them to respond it wasn’t that email was not from me m um and I wasn’t necessarily expecting them to respond to that email but I did think over the course of the next month same Vibes people would reach out and they did not yeah and I think some of that is just us adapting to newer there’s too many communication to well and just it’s all new electronic communications I mean before this we were just talking about you know having some uh online presentations of some software and the way different people do it different ways and what works and does like it’s all new [  ] that we’re trying to sort of work through and even though email Isn’t you know quote unquote new it’s only really become super popular in what 15 years 20 years I mean before that that isn’t the way we communicated within our office you weren’t emailing people [  ] now it’s every day and as we adapt to these things will figure out cultural rules in the meantime we’re just all figuring out our own way and deciding what it means yeah I mean I have evidence that people didn’t read that email and that is that since I left um that organization a year ago my I have LinkedIn premium so I can see details about the people that are searching for me on LinkedIn and the highest company like the most people that are searching for me are from my old organization and that’s because 6 months 9 months after I left they suddenly realized I wasn’t know you weren’t there anymore and and we’re like well where’s Caroline now so and that’s still I mean it’s been a year now and I still am getting like frequent searches from my old company so yeah people didn’t read the email is is is long story short alternate Theory nobody gave a [  ] and now the company’s going to [  ] and they’re like where did she go I want to see if I could work there I’m just I mean it’s just possible that’s all I’m just saying yeah goad I was just going to say I have seen I shouldn’t throw her under the bus but like Jen I’ll see her phone and like her emails like 130 emails in her email box just she’s like oh I don’t have time for all that [  ] so here’s here’s where I think we can write the ship right this is where I think I keep trying to get to at least a how Jason can write Jason ship let me say that um where you get to that point Caroline where you say I sent this email email out and I’ve been racking my brain boggled by it trying to figure it out but you haven’t asked nobody else or that’s not true you haven’t asked anybody that’s given you any good helpful information but more importantly you haven’t asked the [  ] people in the situation right okay this didn’t go over well fair enough in my mind this doesn’t go over well I feel a feeling about it I want to attend to my feeling so I send another mass email a week later and I say hey look guys I sent this email out I’m not criticizing y’all or judging you in my last workplace this is how we operated I would get a lot of emails back it felt meaningful I’m just want to get the feel for what works for us here like what kind of thing can I do that would feel good to you if this doesn’t and maybe you have an anonymous survey link or something like in my mind it’s real easy we just go ask and see that’s what gend did with me and now I reply to all her and just not many but but when she sends me an email oh yeah it looks really cool reply love you you know but she asked and I’ll do it not for everybody I don’t do that that didn’t change my whole Behavior but she asked so I do it because when the right hand isn’t reporting to the system that is the body that the stove [  ] hurts the body doesn’t know to do something different right you’re not reporting to the system and that’s going to make it a dysfunctional system I get it that’s what we’ve been trained to do but I think we don’t hold that obligation of not saying anything in society I think the fix is we start [  ] talking about it hey I’m not blaming nobody but this is a feeling I God how can we make it feel better for us yeah yeah we don’t talk like that in the construction industry that’s for sure yeah we didn’t even talk like that in my my old company um I yeah I mean think I get what you’re saying so you’re saying you’re bound by the rules of the construction industry and your old company and not what Caroline would feel good living that sounds like an obligation I feel I don’t feel like it would feel good to come back at them asking for to me that secondary follow-up email feels like I’m asking for even more from them than I asked with the first email which was just a now that now I’m putting a pressure on them to do something that’s going to be even less comfortable for well and and I could put in that email feel free to disregard all this and I’ll understand that you just prefer not to have any of these personal Communications and that’s fine right I’ll give them that out but to me it’s not putting more pressure on them and saying hey I understand what I did did not necessarily feel to you on your end like I was sending it so like now I want your input people love giving their [  ] input man ask people for an opinion they got lots of them at least people like me not at my job to your face so I work in construction too and like so it’s funny Jen and I cuz we work in completely different fields we’ll have conversations and she’ll say well did you get like your team together and did you go like around the circle and ask them how they all feel and I’m like yeah that’s not going to work like they’re going to be like what the [  ] are you talking about like we’re oil mechanics and like diesel mechanics and [  ] like we’re not talking about our feelings here like hire me for a 28 hour day training and we will just sit there until them [  ] talk well I said what they really do is they don’t talk about their feelings then they leave and go talk about it to each other in the parking lot you know but I give them the space I you know I always I always offered out there hey has anybody got any input anything anybody want to say before we wrap this up anybody not like any of this and they never say anything but I still give them the space but then I don’t take responsibility for their [  ] in the parking lot I figure that’s them being a coward so you know any final thoughts about like family obligation otherworldly obligation that’s kind of what we’ve been talking about today yeah for I mean for me I’ve just learned to just go with how I feel in the the day or the moment you know I have some people around to support and help me with that cuz I can make really unhealthy emotional decisions for myself but you know there are times I don’t want to do that stuff and it just doesn’t feel good because I’m not in the right space and it’s okay to give myself that out it’s not an obligation it’s does this feel right is this really in alignment with my values and can I can I [  ] do this today I’m working on this uh what I’ve been calling the circle of self-care it’s kind of like a a mentality of self-care instead of just a a thing to do um I really want to bring it on here and explain it maybe I can do that in a an upcoming episode but that is what I’ve been trying to put into place for how to know when to stop sit the [  ] down and re-evaluate because the thing that I’ve been operating with ain’t working and I feel like we could all use that this better understanding of when the [ __ ] to just stop and re-evaluate you know cuz something ain’t right uh I definitely could use some help help on selfcare Okay that was one of the topics I was going to I came with a few ideas and self-care was one of them oh maybe that’s perfect keep that for our next one very soon then yeah maybe like in 10 minutes all right uh have a good week and we’ll see you next [Music] week have you found that listening to the recovery sort of podcast has helped you in your day-to-day Journey please share the message of compassion and well-being with the loved on in your life connect with us more at recovery sort of.com Facebook Instagram threads YouTube and other social media spaces and have a great [Music] [Applause] [Music]